#131: How to Find Profitable Self-Storage Units

Welcome to The Accelerated Investor Podcast with Josh Cantwell, if you love entrepreneurship and investing in real estate then you are in the right place. Josh is the CEO of Freeland Ventures Real Estate Private Equity and has personally invested in well over 500 properties all across the country. He’s also made hundreds of private lender loans and owns over 1,000 units of apartments. Josh is an expert at raising private money for deals and he prides himself on never having had a boss in his entire adult life. Josh and his team also mentor investors and entrepreneurs from all over the world. He doesn’t dream about doing deals, he actually does them and so do his listeners and students. Now sit back, listen, learn, and accelerate your business, your life, and your investing with The Accelerated Investor Podcast. 

Josh: So, hey, guys, welcome back to Accelerated Investor, this is Josh. I am so excited that you’re here today. And, you know, just again, ripping through some podcast interviews. I just got back from Florida, took about 30 days out with my wife and kids and just really enjoying the summertime and spending some time with my family down there. Deep-Sea fishing, going on catamarans, you know, taking bike rides to the beach, having a few cocktails. So I’m happy to be back and recording and having fun with you today. I’m interviewing a new friend of mine. His name is AJ Osborne.

Josh: AJ is a phenomenal guy you’re going to hear in this interview. He is a survivor of what is called Guillain Barre Syndrome, which attacked his body and made him paralyzed for almost three or four months, spent many years going through rehab, both physical therapy, speech therapy and all different kinds of therapy. A.J. today owns over 8000 units of self-storage, also owns a commercial real estate brokerage. He’s got over 100-million-dollar portfolio of cash flowing assets, primarily in self-storage. He’s got a brand-new book out. And it’s this is a phenomenal interview that you’re going to hear about some advice that A.J. would give to his younger former self. You’ll hear how A.J. got started in real estate. You’ll hear about, A.J., his primary moneymaking strategy, which is self-storage. And also, you’ll hear how he’s about to pull out eight million dollars in tax free loan proceeds from a refinance that he’s doing. So I hope you love it. Enjoy this next episode of Accelerate Investor.

Josh: So, hey, guys, welcome back to Accelerated Investor. I’m so excited to be with all of you today. Today, I have a very special guest. His name is A.J. Osborne. A.J. does a phenomenal podcast of his own. He owns over eight thousand units of self-storage. Over a million square feet. And we are going to talk today with him about his life as a real estate investor, where to talk about cash flow. And we’re going to talk about raising private capital. But specifically, he’s got a brand new book out, just launched it. It’s already a best seller, all about investing in self-storage. A.J. Osborne, welcome and thank you for joining me on Accelerated Investor. How are you?

AJ: Doing great. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. You bet.

Josh: You bet, man. So I always love to start with our guests to talk a little bit about what’s going on right now in your business today. Obviously, we’re still in the middle of COVID. But I’d love to talk with our guests about what’s a deal, what’s a business, what’s a transaction or a management of a building that you’re currently working on right now. Tell us what you’re excited about that you’re working on right now, today, this week, this month.

AJ: So, you know, with the massive compression and cap rates and just cash everywhere trying to find somewhere to go. We’re actually trying to look at some different things. So we’ve converted bankruptcy for Kmart’s into self-storage. And I’ve got three under contract right now that we’re doing so. We’re in the middle of working on those and also moving over into a different asset class of an industrial space that has extremely high, high demand, yet there’s just nobody in that space or going out of it. It very much feels like storage was in the 90s and early 2000s. It’s very much overlooked. And so we are also looking at three large projects to build out industrial warehousing for businesses.

Josh: Got it. So your moneymaking strategy as we were kind of getting ready for this podcast. You mentioned you own brokerages, commercial investing, but your kind of backbone is in self-storage. So just tell us a little bit more about that. Tell our audience, we’ve had some other self-storage experts and guests on the podcast. But tell us about your flavor of self-storage. How do you invest in it? How do you find it? Are you doing value add improvements or are you buying stabilized buildings? Are you syndicating them and raising capital? Tell us about. You’ve probably done a little bit of everything, but tell us about your favorite strategy for making money and self-storage.

AJ: Yep, I’ve done pretty much everything in self-storage. Small, large conversions, build ground up. But really, my favorite type of self-storage is the value-add prospect. We buy underperforming assets and turn them around. It adds an element of what I call money on the table, and that’s measurable gains that are not being taken. They’re sitting there. They’re just not being taken. And so that strategy is extremely effective, reliable, low risk, and we can get our money out quick and redeploy it so we can grow. But obviously the name of the game changes and it changes a lot, so deals are harder to come by. We’re big into conversions. We’re very nervous about over supplied markets which there are a lot of.

Josh: Those are the dangerous, self-storage the downside to self-storage is overbuilt. It’s very easy to overbuild self-storage. And it’s happening all over the country right now. So for us, we really are looking at overlooked markets. I don’t want to know the hot city of the day or whatever. We try to avoid those things. And with that, you have a reliable asset type that will produce great returns. So I do build. I do convert. But my favorite hands down is buying, existing and improving the operations and increasing the cash flow. I look at a 20 percent cash on cash return or I don’t buy it. So that’s been our mode of operations, taken us from zero to over a hundred million in assets, and it’s worked really well.

Josh: Nice. So you mentioned avoiding markets that are overbuilt. And you mentioned how easy it is to overbuild in a market. Just comment on that, because I’m thinking about you mentioned Kmart, right. So there’s obviously a lot of bankrupt Kmart’s everywhere that are almost not like big boxes near a mall, but they’re anchor stores in strip centers primarily. And I can think of one in my old hometown where I grew up that’s bankrupt, sitting there, it’s vacant. So I’m curious to see what, you know, what kind of things you look at to evaluate those deals, to see if a market is undersaturated, oversaturated or just right. So help us understand that.

AJ: Yeah. Self-storage, I’m obviously obsessed with it. I love it. I think it has more runway than any other real estate asset class. It’s new in its lifespan. It’s probably a teenager. Most other asset classes are very matured. They’re ran by institutions where 70 plus percent of all storage facilities are mom and pop single operators. So the runway to buy and to grow and self-storage is really good for new investors as well as experienced investors like myself. And so the economics of self-storage are improving, getting better. And we’ll continue to because real estate prices go up, our ability to consume is dropping.

AJ: You know, Wal-Mart, then you have Amazon. You know, it’s just those economics are very, very good. As well as the disbursement of office space and retail where people businesses need to house things. You’re trying to solve problems like last mile, so they need space. And it’s just not feasible to build for a lot of these companies because I need, you know, whatever it is, 100 square feet. It’s just not feasible to build that and own it. And that may change. So the economics are really good. But the one downside storage has is the fact that it it’s very subject to being overbuilt.

AJ:There’s lower barriers of entry and the information is not good. And so you have people that own a field and they’re going to go build a hundred thousand square feet. And when you ask them, you know, why did you think the spot was a good spot? And the answer is: because I own the land. And you have a lot of people that do that or they say the long-term gains of it are good and they view it as a very easy asset class to run because they say there’s no toilets.

Josh: It sounds a lot like the same answers, A.J., you’d hear for residential. Like, I bought this house because it was in my backyard. Or I bought this rental property because it just looked like a good deal. There’s not a lot of like the the real deep analysis that you might do on a value-add apartment deal or, you know, a commercial deal or something like that. A lot of the things you gave me, it strikes me as like, wow, you got a lot of mom and pops in that space that just own six acres of land and they’re going to build and they’re gonna build it and it’s cheap. And you have to throw in some electrical for garage doors and then they’re done.

AJ: Which is not a bad thing because those are all my potential. So I buy from those people. Because then they get in trouble and they’re like, hold on. I didn’t understand. I thought this was easy. When what they fundamentally didn’t understand is self-storage acts more as retail than it does anything else. So you need to have a very good marketing strategy. You need to have revenue management. You need to have dynamic pricing. You need to have all these things really lined up. And if you don’t, your competitors are. So in self-storage, we’re competing with the self-storage down the road. I’m literally trying to take your tenants from you. It’s not like apartment buildings where you get a year lease up. It’s month to month. Once the slow season comes, the busy season comes up. I’m trying to take tenants. And the best operator wins.

AJ:So with that said, as you get better in self-storage, the odds of you being more successful and all that, that really improves. And for a new person getting into it, as long as they can avoid overbuilt markets, they’re generally going to be fine. Buy right and don’t build in overbuilt markets, right? I generally tell people to stay away from ones where they have large regional players or REITS that are really, really good. If it’s your first time getting into it, you know, make sure you understand. The data in self-storage, though, is not nearly as good as a lot of the other asset classes.

AJ:So it takes a little work to make sure that those things aren’t overbuilt. A lot of people will buy and they didn’t understand that the guy selling it to him or selling it because somebody down the street is building a hundred and fifty thousand square feet of storage. And you didn’t know that and you buy it. And then next year there is a huge mass inventory on the market and that lowers prices.

Josh:So are there some shortcuts, A.J., to finding that deaths? You said because, you know, in the apartment space, it’s so readily available through costar, through underwriting. That’s easy. That’s my space. We own twenty six hundred yards of apartments. We’ve got a commercial lender at Marcus and Millichap that’s got all this data at his fingertips. But you’ve said a couple times it’s not that way necessarily in self-storage. But you obviously do a lot of that due diligence to make sure you buy the right deal. You’re not overbuilt. So what are some shortcuts there?

AJ: You know, the great thing about self-storage is they’re really easy to find. I mean, if you’re in a second or third tier market, if you’re not in L.A., things like that. The bigger the market, the better the data is. And you can utilize data aggregators like, you know, we have our version of Costar and things in self-storage. And the bigger the market. So if I go to L.A., those services are going to be fairly accurate. The moment you walk into second third tier markets, anything other, it starts to not be. But if you use those and then just literally Google Earth-it I mean, self-storage facilities are big.

AJ: They kind of stand out. So if I take a three mile radius of whatever I want to buy, wherever, I mean, I start lining up, going online, finding all storage facilities, and then I find all the ones that are marketing. And then from there, I call up the city planning and zoning. I want to know exactly what land has been approved to build on and what current existing product properties are in the pipeline are going to be built. So that way I understand current existing as well as incoming. And I’m looking at a square foot per capita. So how many square feet per capita are on the market? And then out of that square foot, what is the occupancy look like? What is demand for that square foot? And that’s how you really determined current demand. And then future demand depends on what’s in the pipeline. What’s gonna be coming up and how much square footage that’ll add to the market and what effect that will have on rental rates.

Josh:So help our listeners, if they maybe are an apartment investor or raising capital, maybe single family, and they’re like, hey, I’m really interested in learning more about self-storage. I don’t know that I have the operational capacity or the ability to raise money, but maybe I can go source deals and send them off to someone like A.J.. What is the type? Describe the ideal, the ideal deal that you’d be finding. Maybe use a recent case study that you’re really proud of. Tell us about that. So if our audience would go find a deal like that, they know that they’re going to be in the ballpark. It’s something worth doing some due diligence on.

AJ: Yeah, there’s a bunch of cases that I have in front. And in my book that you mentioned previously, I literally map out all the case studies and I talk about why those deals are great, but to keep it short and sweet. I’m really looking for over 60 thousand square feet, and I want not professional management. I don’t want the REITs. I don’t want major players to be running it because I want upside. I actually want a facility that’s not being ran that great. So I can have that upside and I can turn it around. And then I’m looking at facilities that have high demand. I want something where they are most of the time not doing anything because they don’t need to. I mean, 100 percent full for five years. And so I don’t even care. I’m not touching it. That’s wonderful.

AJ: I don’t want somebody that’s doing a really good job and they can’t and they can’t get above 80 percent occupancy. That’s bad. There’s no way to go with that because they’re fighting against oversupplied or whatever that may be. So if it’s on a main road and a three mile radius has, like I don’t need no competition, but competition that’s okay. And I have a facility that isn’t being ran what I would suggest is great, meaning they don’t have a good marketing strategy. They’re not adding insurance. They’re not doing all these other lines and services or dynamic pricing. And it’s 60 plus thousand square feet. For the most part, I’m looking at that. I want to see that. I want to look at how well that will do.

AJ: When I’m looking at bankrupt super Kmart’s, I’m looking for good positions in cities for, you know, big box stores have been sitting empty and are ready to sell, that gets us on a main road. So I look a lot at those. And the reason being is after a while, they’re gonna come back down to reality. Because the shift in retail to a new asset, this is hard for owners. They’re pricing these assets based upon what they used to do, which doesn’t make sense anymore. And so they have to come to grips with the new reality. And I got to work with those owners to get them to understand the new reality, what they’re asking.

AJ: It’s like, well, you’ve got me and then nobody else. So this is what this asset will perform and what its value is to me. That therefore, now that’s the new value. So self-storage can fit a lot of those, But two, I need it to be it. We’ve taken assets down to where they would have sold for 18, 20 million and we’re buying them at six or five. Because we just can’t pencil it if it’s over. So this can be a hard, long, drawn out process. And the sellers may sit on these assets for eight years until they finally go. OK, I get it.

Josh: It’s not going to reposition, because it’s not going to work. Got it. So in apartments and, you know, even in residential, you know, you’re looking at a couple different ways to make money. So potentially an acquisition fee potentially purchase it, putting in your value-add improvements, cash out, re-fi proceeds, net free cash flow and then equity.

Josh:So is in your mind, is a perfect self-storage deal very similar to that, where you’re buying it, looking to acquire it? Do the value-add improvements if you’re going to syndicate it? Have investors that thus try to refinance them out of the deal within, let’s say, two to four years. Help me understand what an ideal looks like from a cash flow perspective for you. And if you have investors coming in that put you putting up your equity capital, what does a typical deal look like for them on the deals that you’ve done in the past?

AJ:So when I’m looking at deals, I’m really looking at two things. I first of all, I want cash flow, day one. If I’m buying it and it’s not cash flowing well, I don’t even want it. And then after I improve it, it needs to be a homerun. And so what we generally look at is buying it, turning around year three, refiling out, paying back investors. And they either stay in the deal or they don’t, depending on the investment. What we’re doing right now, we have two little they’re going to sell. Yes, they’re going to stay. So we give them 100 percent turn and then they get a stay in the deal. So we look at that on a case by case scenario. But our general mode of operations is that we either convert, build or buy. And then in three years, we are returning capital back and then we’re just going to have infinite returns, which we re-fi with non-recourse loans. And so we shift the risk off of us, and then it becomes more like for the investors mailbox money. And then for us, our capitals returned, and the risk has been shifted.

Josh: Fantastic. Yeah. Very, very, very similar to what we do with our apartments. We primarily invest in B Class. Sometimes it’s A minus, sometimes it’s C plus, but B class, which is proven to be fairly COVID proof as well, which has been nice. So I want to ask you about how you got started in real estate and then ultimately how you ended up in in self-storage and some of the other things you’re doing. But before I go there. Just give us a little bit of commentary. Has COVID helped your business? Hurt your business? How was it affected all the things?

AJ: It definitely hasn’t helped. You know, really, the problem with COVID it is timing. So COVID happened in the springtime. In self-storage, for most markets in the United States, there’s seasonality. Yeah. If you’re in Southern California, they really don’t have seasonality. And maybe downtown Miami, things like that. But for the rest of the United States, there’s very much a harvest season in self-storage, and that’s springtime. And so you’ve got four months where that’s when you’re getting people in. That’s when you’re replacing the move outs during the fall and winter. That’s when you’re making hay. And that evaporated, obviously. And a lot of states we were in, we couldn’t even operate. So when you’re fighting with the government, it’s a losing battle. And so, you know, that doesn’t play out well.

AJ: Now, what that said, I mean, we’re not at all hurting. It’s just we just readjusted our expectations instead of eight to twelve percent increase in gross revenue. You know, we’re like OK. You know, we’ll be maybe flat. But also, that’s presented opportunities for us to buy because buyers just evaporated. And so I’ve got more deals under contract than I have in the last four years. Because all the people that were on the fence or even looking into it, they’re just gone. And so that’s been really beneficial towards us and deal flow. And owners are more willing to sell and are more reasonable when negotiating. And those conversations are just better. They’re just all around more reasonable than they were at the start of the year.

AJ: At the start of the year, we thought we’d grow eight to 12 percent gross revenue. But we didn’t think we were gonna grow by or four large acquisitions. Now it’s opposite. We’re probably not going to grow eight to 12 percent revenue, but we are going to grow acquisition based, which I can take a pause in revenue growth to acquire good facilities because it’ll pick right back up. We’re not worried about that. So in all and all for the asset. I think it actually helped it. You know, markets were starting to get so overbuilt.

AJ: You had markets in Texas that facilities were sitting just, you know, half empty and you had other markets like I’m in Idaho, the Boise Valley, where there are 30 square feet per capita, which we’re targeting, eight square feet per capita. So just so overbuilt and COVID helped slow that down where people that maybe shouldn’t be doing it and everything kind of got out.

Josh: That’s the word we’ve been using with our commercial brokers and guys that we’re in the business. You know, apartment transactions are down 81 percent from May of 2019 to May of 2020. The total number of transactions. So I don’t want my audience to think, oh, my God, prices are down 81 percent. No. Just the number of transactions actually trading is down 81 percent. That’ll pick back up.

AJ: And you do have a lot of buyers that are not selling. Yeah. So they’re like, I’m going to wait. Right. So it’s you know, this is an interesting thing. And we’re looking at deal flow, the deals that are going on the market. We’re seeing just a fraction of. But all our deals, we get off market deals. And so those deals are actually changing hands and moving faster. So when you look out and say, brokers, what do you got as far as self-storage? They’re going, I don’t get anything. And that’s resonating through the industry.

Josh: No doubt. A.J., tell us a little bit more about your start. Everybody wonders. Oh, my God. You know, 100 hundred million in assets, eight thousand units, lots of cash flow, lots of assets, big equity. But how did you get started?

AJ: Got started in insurance, not real estate. So I sold insurance.

Josh:So did I. You were doing life and health?

AJ: Health and welfare. I was a health and welfare puke. I, you know, business to business B2B. So it was, I was boring. And that was great. I mean, me and my dad sold insurance together and that was fun. I still own a health benefits brokerage company that I started a few years ago. I’ve got sales guys that run that. But we were looking at a way to diversify because I felt like I was on a treadmill, if I stopped selling, the income stopped coming in. That’s not a good spot. And it’s also really hard to grow because you can’t compound that.

AJ:So when looking at where we wanted to go, we were looking at a secured asset that would generate cash flow, real estate’s obviously name one, but I also wanted business operations to be a big part of it because that’s where I felt I excelled. And so self-storage went to us very, very well. It gave us what we wanted out of real estate. But at the same time, I had more levers to affect the revenue that I did in most asset classes. And so I could develop a really good strategy and I could really target and create a framework that was very reliable and would have large impact on those assets. And yeah, that’s worked well for us.

Josh: Nice. So you and I again, connected before the podcast a little bit about this illness that you have. You’ve heard people pronounce it different ways. I’ve heard people mentioned this Guillain Barre syndrome. Guillain Barre syndrome.

AJ: It’s a French word, actually. There was a French guy that found out about it in the early 1900s, but nobody listened to him.

Josh:So explain to our audience, what is this? I want my audience understand the reason why AJ and I connected and one of the things that we have a connection with. My uncle went through this very similar experience that AJ is about to describe. And it was scary. You’re talking about, you know, short term and potentially long-term paralysis. You’re talking about hallucination, not knowing where you’re at. I remember my uncle in the hospital bed talking about how there were flies everywhere.

Josh: I mean, it was wild, wild stuff. And a couple years ago, you went through this experience and self-storage was able to, you know, provide for your family while you when you were really pretty laid up. And then I’m going to ask you a little bit more about some advice for our members. But tell us a little bit about how this illness impacted your life and how real estate helped you get through it.

AJ: Yeah, at the time I was working for the second largest health and welfare benefits brokerage company in the world. I was running our state’s department. Guillain Barre attacks the nervous system. One day I was fine. The next day I was paralyzed. I was put on life support. So I had feeding tubes, breathing tubes, everything. I couldn’t speak for over ten weeks and I was paralyzed from head to toe. So I had to relearned everything to eat, to talk. I had, you know, I was in physical therapy for years. I had to literally relearn to do it all. My lower legs and extremities are still not quite there. But I got rid of my leg braces.

AJ: I was walking with leg braces and some other things, but we had about 10-week period where I was flatlined and I had no improvement and they didn’t know what was going to happen to me.  And this is completely out of the blue. I was never sick. I’m a healthy guy. I’m young. Thirty-three. It was the last thing in the world we would have ever thought happen to me. I thought I would be paralyzed from skiing or something. Not from this. But my boss came and, you know, met me in the hospital to inform me that I’d lost my job. And so, you know, it was through real estate and passive income that kept my family. We didn’t have to sell our house. I have four kids. We were feeding them.

AJ: We weren’t worried about where that check was going to come in, even while my wife had to take care of me. Her now quadriplegic husband lying in a hospital bed on tubes. And then after three, four months and they released me home, I was still paralyzed from the chest down. So I was in bed. My brother moved in to live with us to help me try to come back. But it was yeah, there was no way I was working. So I was done for a long time.

Josh: I mean, this leads into my next question, which is what kind of advice now that you’ve been through that experience and you have cash flowing assets and you’ve built a balance sheet and you have equity and cash flow coming in. What kind of advice would you give your maybe less experienced self and maybe specifically talk to some of our listeners that don’t have a thousand units or twenty-six hundred units? What are some things that you would do differently? What would what jumps out in my mind right off the rip and I don’t want to steal your thunder, but I was I was very transactional in my real estate investing and also when I was a financial planner.

Josh:So some similar to you with your insurance experience. And I realized through all of that transactional work that when I got sick with pancreatic cancer, I’m a pancreatic cancer survivor. I couldn’t make any money. It’s very, very similar to your experience as well. And I realized, I’ve got to own assets. I’ve got to have things that pay me cash flow every month, every week, every year. Or if this happens again, I’m gonna be really upset with myself that I hadn’t learned my lesson. Right. So what are some things that you would tell your younger, maybe less experienced self from that experience and through your investing it?

AJ: Waiting doesn’t help. I should have started sooner. And still I think I should have started sooner. So and I think every experienced real estate person will say the same thing. I wish I would have bought more. And I wish I would have started sooner. It’s one of those things also that I wished that I wouldn’t have been. There were so many unknowns when you start that you feel like it’s scary that you feel like, am I making the right decision that I don’t know all the answers and that’s okay. But the foundationals, the things that are important have a huge impact later on. So that there’s this leverage effect in real estate and in time and in economics that over five, 10-year period, it’s really hard for us to understand that impact.

AJ: I mean, I’m doing a refinance of a couple assets right now and we’re pulling eight million out tax free. And, you know, it’s just you don’t even realize that when you’re starting. And so there is this idea that, listen, you need to learn as you go. You need to get started and you need to get started sooner than later. And you don’t have a crystal ball to know the future. And that’s also with your health. So you have way more risk not doing than you have.

AJ: I mean, the risk of not doing is you know, it was or so the risk of doing is I can may lose my capital, but the risk of not doing is I risk my entire future. Your upside’s infinite. So that risk scale doesn’t make sense. My upsides are infinite and my downside is measurable and limited. Why would I not do that? It literally doesn’t make sense. Right. And that’s something you don’t see until later on down the road. But once you do, it’s like blows your mind, right. Holy cow. Why wasn’t I. I was so naive. And why didn’t I start early or why. You know what I mean? Because you realize all the upside that you missed out on.

AJ: And that’s, you know, where even today is longest. Good. I’m very strict on my requirements. I’m very strict on what we invest in. Risk is the most important thing to me because I understand compounding. And I don’t want to take a step back. But with that said, I never want to be in a position where I’m not active, where I’m not buying, where we’re not improving and we’re not growing. So for me, I’d say start sooner and fell forward and be okay with it, understand that’s part of the process.

Josh: Yeah. I don’t know a single entrepreneur that hasn’t failed multiple times, that hasn’t come on this podcast and said, oh my God, I sucked at this. I failed at this. I tried that. And I don’t think I’ve ever done an interview with a single person that said I hit a grand slam the first time I tried. And I never had to work again. That doesn’t happen. It doesn’t exist.

AJ: Those people are just lying or they’re selling something. That’s not how it works. I mean, I’ve failed and not small. Really big. And it’s one of those things that that can either stop you, or keep you moving. But it’s this is one of the things that comes down to diversifying the source of income, because when you concentrate, if you’re going after that one big end- all, the odds of failing and not recovering are very big because you’re betting it all.

AJ: And your odds of being able to learn from your mistakes are very, very small. And so you need to diversify your income, diversify the assets, diversify the risk so you can keep growing and you can keep compounding. That’s why jobs are bad. You have no control. So you have all the risk. And it’s one single. So the odds of you leaving your job or getting fired or the job going away or the company going away are astronomically high.

AJ: I’ve never met someone that worked from one company their entire life. So from my experience, that’s a 100 percent guarantee that that job’s going to go away. Whether by you or somebody else. So that’s a bad, bad risk and a bad investment. Whereas when you own your revenue source, it may not work out perfect. But you own it. And if you do it right, it’s never going away. So, I mean, you can measure the risk. And really in red state. Risk is debt. So as long as you control it, if you have real estate and there’s no debt at all on it, it may not give you great returns, but there’s no risk. Right. And so it’s, you know, one of those things where you can find a middle ground. You can keep growing and you can do it your preference. And the risk is a fraction of what it is to even have a job. So it just makes no sense not to do.

Josh: Yeah, phenomenal stuff. A.J., appreciate that. Listen, A.J., I’m sure your book is out. It’s already a bestseller. I’m sure a lot of our listeners will want to pick that up. You’ll hear everything and more that A.J. and I talked about today on this interview from how to find deals, case studies, raising money. His experience with his Guillain Barre syndrome, everything that he’s learned along the way, stuffed inside of his book. A.J., is there a spot where they can go grab a copy of that book somewhere?

AJ: Yeah, you can go to Amazon. It’s the Investors Guide to Growing Wealth and Self-Storage. It’s blue. That’s how you remember it. Or you can go to my site, Self-Storage Income or the podcast. It’s the largest podcast in self-storage by far or bigger than all other all other self-storage podcasts combined. That’s also Self-Storage Income. And I don’t, you know, unlike a lot of gurus, things like that, I don’t have a big funnel. I’m not selling things. So I built the what I called Ultimate Playbook. It’s a hundred and eighty-four pages, and the numbers I put everything in it. There’s no up-sell. So I’m like, you know, for me. And after my experience, I made a promise to the hospital, but I’m like, I’m going to give this stuff out.

AJ:If somebody wants more help, we can have conversations. If they want me to do a deal. Obviously, I don’t work for free, but I don’t hold any information. I mean, I actually paid for that information to go out and we give it all away so that it and that was lacking in the cell storage space. There was nobody who had compiled information and there’s so many questions and people felt they couldn’t get into the space because they don’t have good information. So I thought, we’re just going to build this. And that’s what the book is. It’s literally the Step-By-Step playbook for anyone to own, operate, manage, buy, get investors and become an expert in this space.

Josh: Fantastic stuff. A.J., listen, thanks so much for joining me today on Accelerated Investor. I appreciate having you and sharing your ideas with us today.

AJ: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.


Josh:So I hope you enjoyed this interview with A.J. Osborne and myself, Josh Cantwell on the Accelerated Investor podcast. Absolutely had a phenomenal time interviewing A.J. if you enjoyed the interview. Please go right now to iTunes and leave us a rating and a review. Five-star rating. Leave us a review. Let us know how A.J. and I did on this interview. If you have questions, comments about A.J. or about me or about our interview and how we did, we really would love to hear your feedback. And also, if you could go and share this on social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, share this with your friends and family so we could spread the word about Accelerated Investor. I would greatly appreciate that. And we’ll see you on the next episode of Accelerate Investor.

You’ve been listening to Josh Cantwell and the Accelerated Investor Podcast. Leave a comment on our iTunes channel and let us know what you want to learn next, or who you’d like Josh to interview. While you’re there, give us some five-star rating and make sure to subscribe so you can be the first to hear new episodes. Follow Josh Cantwell and his companies, the Strategic Real Estate Coach and Freeland Ventures on all social media platforms now and stay up to date on new training and investment opportunities to start your journey toward the lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of. Apply for coaching at JoshCantwellCoaching.com.

As a health insurance salesman in the B2B space, AJ Osbourne was making good money, but only when he was selling. After being diagnosed with Guillain Barre syndrome, which temporarily paralyzed him and left him with months and months of physical therapy, AJ decided to find a way to have consistent cash flow even if he became too sick to work again.

Today AJ owns a commercial real estate brokerage, and he has over 8,000 units of self-storage worth over $100 million dollars. He is passionate about the self-storage space, and has just published a book called The Investors Guide to Growing Wealth in Self-Storage: The Step-By-Step Playbook For Turning a Real Estate Asset Into a Thriving Self-Storage Business.

Nearly 70% of all self-storage operators are mom-and-pop operations, so the potential to grow into this market is huge for investors. But there are some real dangers in overbuilding. Because the self-storage market operates more like the retail market and less like the apartment rental market, AJ wants you to drill down on the data carefully before you pull the trigger and invest.

Currently, AJ is converting bankrupt Kmarts into self-storage units, but he’s still looking for deals. If you’d love to partner with him, or send him some deals, you can contact him through his website.

If you loved this episode, like us, share us, or give us a five-star review on iTunes. We’re offering free swag to any Accelerated Investor listeners who send us a screenshot of their reviews, so be sure and connect with us on social media!

What’s Inside:

  • How to find data for self-storage properties.
  • Why marketing self-storage is more like retail than apartments.
  • How similar is the financing between self-storage and apartments?
  • How the season affects the self-storage market.

Mentioned in this episode​

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